The ToF-ACSM: a portable aerosol chemical speciation monitor with TOFMS detection
Abstract. We present a new instrument for monitoring aerosol composition, the time-of-flight aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ToF-ACSM), combining precision state-of-the-art time-of-flight mass spectrometry with stability, reliability, and easy handling, which are necessities for long-term monitoring operations on the scale of months to years. Based on Aerodyne aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) technology, the ToF-ACSM provides continuous online measurements of chemical composition and mass of non-refractory submicron aerosol particles. In contrast to the larger AMS, the compact-sized and lower-priced ToF-ACSM does not feature particle sizing, similar to the widely-used quadrupole-ACSM (Q-ACSM). Compared to the Q-ACSM, the ToF-ACSM features a better mass resolution of M/ΔM = 600 and better detection limits on the order of < 30 ng m−3 for a time resolution of 30 min. With simple upgrades these limits can be brought down by another factor of ~ 8. This allows for operation at higher time resolutions and in low concentration environments. The associated software packages (single packages for integrated operation and calibration and analysis) provide a high degree of automation and remote access, minimising the need for trained personnel on site. Intercomparisons with Q-ACSM, C-ToF-AMS, nephelometer and scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) measurements, performed during a first long-term deployment (> 10 months) on the Jungfraujoch mountain ridge (3580 m a.s.l.) in the Swiss Alps, agree quantitatively. Additionally, the mass resolution of the ToF-ACSM is sufficient for basic mass defect resolved peak fitting of the recorded spectra, providing a data stream not accessible to the Q-ACSM. This allows for quantification of certain hydrocarbon and oxygenated fragments (e.g. C3H7+ and C2H3O+, both occurring at m/Q = 43 Th), as well as improving inorganic/organic separation.